To create your website, social media posts, or marketing materials, you need some images. There are two primary things to keep in mind when using or to create images:

  1. Does the image establish the right impression of your brand?
  2. Would your ideal client be attracted to the image?
Choosing the best stock photos for your brand

Stock photos vs. your custom photography

There are certain times when it’s critical to use photographs you have taken (with your own camera/phone or by hiring a photographer). You can’t substitute stock images in any of these situations:

  • Photographs of your packaging if you sell a product.
  • Photographs of your interior space if you have a store or restaurant.
  • Photos of you (maybe with clients) if you sell a service like fitness coaching or chiropractic services.
  • Actual screenshots if you sell an app or software.

These photos should show your actual product, team, or location. It would be bizarre if you showed the interior of a different restaurant, right?

You may want to supplement these images with additional stock photos. Stock photos are an easy way to have high-quality images as part of your brand. And, if you sell something like business consulting, wellness coaching, or online training, you may find yourself mainly using stock photos.

There are many places to find low-cost and even free images, but you need to choose the right ones to make them work. 

Photos should reflect your key brand traits

Photos make strong first impressions.

We often make quick judgments about someone by the clothes they wear. Similarly, the images you use can say a lot about your brand. 

A woman wearing a tailored suit is probably a business person; the man in a leather jacket with a helmet and thick beard probably rides a motorcycle. 

Start by thinking about the type of impression you want to make. An excellent place to start is to create a mood board. You can create a Pinterest board, save images on your computer or a stock lightbox or even cut out imagery from magazines and articles. The photos together should start to convey the feeling of your brand.

Branding Compass can help you quickly understand your key brand traits. Just answer a few questions about your business, and in just a few minutes, we’ll generate a mood board for you.

Imagery for your brand can be more than just photos, and it can also include illustrations, icons, and videos. Anything visual people see associated with your brand represents your brand and conveys critical information to your potential clients or customers.

And remember that not everything needs to be literal. Many business people do most of their work on a computer, but you don’t have to show people working on a computer (we all know what that looks like). Consider being more metaphorical: show a beach if you want to suggest optimism and possibility, show s’mores roasting on a firepit if you’re going to offer warmth and togetherness, show mountain climbing if you’re going to show overcoming challenges.

Make sure the people look authentic.

We’ve all seen awful stock photos of businesspeople shaking hands or presenting a chart in a board room. These often feel ‘fake.’ Why? It’s usually because how the people look, what they are wearing, and their environment doesn’t match your business. 

If you are going to show people, begin by thinking of who your ideal client is and what they are interested in. People like to be able to picture themselves or who they’d like to be. 

Sometimes it’s best to avoid using photos of people. You might try showing the back of someone or just their hands, for example. 

Professional photos = professional brand

Whether you are taking your photos or selecting pre-made stock photography, the quality of your images will quickly reflect the quality of your brand. If your photos look sloppy, people will expect that you do sloppy work. If your photos look canned, people will expect that your work is not creative or personalized. If your photos feel inspiring, people will be inspired to work with you.